Macron, Scholz, Draghi visited Kyiv and supported Ukraine’s accession to the EU

The leaders of the three leading European countries visited Kyiv to announce their support for Ukraine to become an EU candidate country and to assure their support for defeating Russia

Olaf Scholz, Emmanuel Macron, Volodymyr Zelensky, Mario Draghi (left to right)

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, during their visit to Kyiv and meeting with Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky, supported granting the country the status of a candidate for EU membership.

“We all support the immediate granting of candidate status to the EU”, — Macron said at a joint press conference after the talks in Kyiv (quoted by Reuters).

“This is a turning point in our history. The Ukrainian people daily defend democratic values ​​and freedom, which supports the European project. Our project. We cannot wait. We cannot delay this process,»— Draghi said there. “Germany” for a positive decision regarding Ukraine. This also applies to the Republic of Moldova»,— he noted, adding that Ukraine belongs to the “European family”.

The trip took place ten days before the EU summit, at which the granting of the status of a candidate country to Ukraine should be officially announced. President Emmanuel Macron, Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Prime Minister Mario Draghi arrived in the Ukrainian capital early Thursday morning on a special train across the Polish border— to the sound of air defense sirens. A joint photo of the three leaders at a table in a train compartment was the first stage of the visit, the details of which were kept secret until the last moment. The visit began with a visit to the Kyiv suburb of Irpen, in which the leaders inspected the destruction. On the same day, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis also visited Kyiv, who also took part in negotiations with Zelensky.

What was the purpose of the visit to Kyiv

The first point of the visit of the three European leaders was the city of Irpen in the suburbs of Kyiv, which the Russian military occupied in the first days of the special operation, but then left. Kyiv accuses Moscow of numerous casualties among the civilian population of Irpen, but the Kremlin denies these accusations. After touring the city, Macron made several statements to the media. Thus, he spoke about the fact that European countries have already begun to allocate financial assistance to Ukraine for the restoration of cities destroyed during the hostilities, and that European experts, gendarmes and lawyers are helping the Ukrainian authorities in investigating war crimes. Commenting on his earlier remark that Russia should not be humiliated, he said: “France has been by Ukraine since day one. We stand on the side of the Ukrainians without ambiguity. Ukraine must resist and win».

Then the leaders of the four countries were received by Zelensky in Kyiv, the president came out to them in his usual informal form since February 24 & mdash; sneakers and a t-shirt. Negotiations lasted several hours behind closed doors. The main topic was the issue of Ukraine obtaining the status of a candidate member of the EU. Macron also announced the allocation of additional military assistance to Kyiv. Speaking about the prospect of negotiations with Russia, he stressed that Ukraine itself must decide on what conditions to conduct them, and that the EU will not demand territorial concessions from Kyiv to Moscow.

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Dragizhe raised the issue of transporting Ukrainian grain intended for export, more than 20 million tons of which have been stuck in the country's ports since the start of the Russian special operation. Previously, it was transported to destination countries by dry cargo ships through the Black Sea, but Ukrainian ports in the Odessa region were mined after the outbreak of hostilities. At the same time, the approach to them is controlled by the Russian fleet. Turkey, together with the UN, is making mediation efforts to reach an agreement between Russia and Ukraine, which will ensure the unimpeded export of grain. “There are two weeks left to clear the ports, deadlines are running out to prevent the irreparable. It is necessary to organize safe corridors for the supply of grain,»,— Draghi said, noting that “the only solution” this is a UN resolution on the regulation of navigation in the Black Sea».

In turn, the head of Zelensky’s office, Andriy Yermak, wrote on his Telegram channel that the European leaders were given “a complete package of sanctions proposals against Russia, which were prepared by the McFaul international group”; Yermak". He noted that Kyiv proceeds from the need to “work on the seventh package of sanctions with the gas embargo.”

The Ukrainian president announced the country's intention to apply for EU membership on February 28, four days after the start of the Russian special operation. The questionnaire necessary for this was handed over to Kyiv, which the Ukrainian authorities filled out in an expedited manner and sent to Brussels. Politico, citing sources, reported that the European Commission on Friday, June 17, will recommend to the European Council to grant the country candidate status. However, according to the procedure, this requires the consent of all 27 member countries, which has not yet been achieved. Bloomberg reported that the Netherlands and Denmark opposed. In Copenhagen, they argue the refusal by the fact that Kyiv's readiness to assume the necessary obligations within the EU is still “generally at a very early stage.”

What did the leaders of France, Germany and Italy not suit Kyiv

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For the French president, the German chancellor and the Italian prime minister, this visit to Kyiv was the first since the start of hostilities in Ukraine. Although since February 24, not only the leaders of the Baltic States and Poland, but also British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Canadian leader Justin Trudeau have managed to visit the country. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has been to Kyiv twice already.

“Delay” with the decision to pay a visit could be due to the fact that each of the troika was repeatedly criticized by the Kyiv authorities. Chancellor Scholz has twice said publicly that he has no intention of visiting Ukraine, including because of Kyiv's refusal to receive German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in mid-April. The reason was the pro-Russian, according to Kyiv, position that Steinmeier held during his tenure as Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany. In particular, he supported the implementation of the Nord Stream 2 project. Scholz made it clear that his visit to Kyiv would not take place until the president was there. Cancellation of visit— it is “an unacceptable way to treat the president of the country,” Scholz said in May, adding that this fact interfered with his own trip to Kyiv. However, Steinmeier never visited Ukraine, and Scholz nevertheless changed his position.

Another painful moment in relations between Kyiv and Berlin was the issue of supplying heavy weapons to Ukraine. Germany has previously announced several so-called ring swaps, in which the country will supply Slovakia, Greece and the Czech Republic with modern heavy weapons, and they will transfer Soviet ones to Kyiv, but so far the deals have not been implemented. In addition, Berlin promised to transfer 30 Gepard self-propelled anti-aircraft guns to Kyiv, organizing appropriate training for the Ukrainian military on the territory of Germany. The first batch should go to Ukraine in July, the second— in August. In Kyiv, however, other figures are called. So, the adviser to the head of the office of the President of Ukraine Oleksiy Arestovich said on June 15 that Germany had promised to transfer 88 Leopard tanks and 50 Gepard self-propelled anti-aircraft guns. According to him, Germany “is responsible” for dead soldiers and civilians, as it does not give heavy weapons.

In relations with France, the stumbling block is Macron's attempts to maintain a dialogue with Russian President Vladimir Putin for a further diplomatic settlement of the conflict. Since the beginning of the Russian special operation in Ukraine, Macron has called the Russian leader more often than anyone else and, in total, according to him, spent more than 100 hours talking. He also urged Europe to refrain from “temptation or the spirit of vengeance”; on the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. Zelensky does not agree with this interpretation. “We should not look for a way out for Russia, Macron is doing it in vain. He wanted to find certain results in the mediation between us and did not find it. And not from our side, but from Russia's, — he said on the air of the Italian channel Rai 1.

The words of Macron, uttered by him in early June, caused an even tougher reaction from the Ukrainian side. “We must not humiliate Russia so that on the day the fighting stops we can find a solution through diplomatic means,” — he told French media, noting that France would have to play a mediating role. In response, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba said that the words that Russia cannot be humiliated “can only humiliate France.”

The Italian prime minister, like Macron, tried to take on the role of a mediator and proposed his own plan for resolving the conflict, which was critically received both in Kyiv and in Moscow. It contained four main points: the establishment of a ceasefire, negotiations on the status of Ukraine, an agreement between Kyiv and Moscow on the status of Donbass and Crimea, and the conclusion of a multilateral agreement on peace and security in Europe. The relevant proposals were submitted to UN Secretary General António Guterres and representatives of the countries— members of the G7 (in addition to Italy, it includes the UK, Germany, Canada, France, Japan and the USA). Kuleba, commenting on the Italian proposal, said that Kyiv welcomes any plans that do not include “concessions from Ukraine on territorial integrity and sovereignty in relation to certain territories.”

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